July is the ultimate month for flavor in our part of the world. Not only is it national ice cream month, which gives us all permission to indulge in luscious, creamy desserts. It is also the height of the fresh fruit season! This is the confluence of some of the best eating in the world, right here in our back yard.
All over, berries are ripening, peaches are growing and there is an abundance of fresh fruit everywhere you look. It is a time that we can all celebrate — with a trip to the Blueberry Patch in Murfreesboro, a blackberry hunt or even just a stop at a peach truck in the area. That trip to the Blueberry Patch may be a game changer for some families as there is nothing quite as delightful as the joy in a child’s eyes when they get to pick fresh berries right off the plant.
It may seem like a small thing, but for kids learning about where their food comes from it is nothing short of a miracle to actually participate in the picking! If you can’t make it to a “You Pick ‘em” berry spot, look around your own neighborhood for wild blackberries. Ask permission if they don’t grow on your land, but do think about an adventure picking your own fresh berries. It is an event not to be missed and we are lucky enough to live where it is possible.
Now, you ask, how can we combine both the freshness of fruit in season and the luscious taste of homemade ice cream? It has never been easier to make your own— and wow your friends and family. If you have an ice cream maker, making homemade ice cream takes less than 10 minutes of active work. The hardest part is remembering to put the chiller bowl in the freezer so that it is ready to work when you are ready to mix up a batch of silky goodness.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still enjoy homemade ice cream with a little ingenuity. I used to take a mixing bowl and put it inside a larger bowl, then fill the larger bowl with salted ice. Then I would put the ice cream into the center bowl and place the whole thing in the freezer. I would pull it out and stir it every ten to 15 minutes until I got ice cream.
There is nothing hard about the rest of the magic. You don’t have to cook a custard or make anything too special. Just mix up some cream or milk and a few ingredients and put it into the machine. I made up this recipe last week and got rave reviews!
Easy Way Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream
While this recipe calls for Wild Orange Essential Oil, which can be found on line or at a spice store, you can substitute ¼ teaspoon orange extract if you must. You can also use this recipe for peach ice cream, just add peeled ripe peaches that have been chopped and macerated with a little sugar.
1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and dried
2 cups half and half cream
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds from one vanilla bean
2-3 drops of Wild Orange essential oil
The first step is to set the chiller from your ice cream freezer into the freezer to chill for a few hours. When you have the machine set up and ready, take a small microwaveable bowl and crush about half your berries in it. Mix it with half the sugar and add back the rest of the berries. Heat them for 30 seconds in the microwave, and then stir them well. Let them rest while you mix up the cream. In a larger bowl, mix together the creams, the rest of the sugar, the honey, the vanilla and the orange oil. Mix this up until the sugar completely dissolves. Set up your ice cream maker and pour in the cream mixture. Run the maker for three or four minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken. Add the blueberry mixture slowly into the cream mixture. Let the freezer run for another fifteen minutes or until the ice cream looks like soft serve. Either serve it soft or transfer the ice cream to a container with a lid and freeze it for an hour or two until it is hard.